Funded PhD in Computational Design of Mid-Air Haptics Experiences Available!

Qualification type: PhD
Location: London
Funding for: UK students, EU students
Funding amount: Funded
Hours: Full Time
Open for application

About the Project

Multi-Sensory Devices (MSD) group is an interdisciplinary research group within UCLIC with a core interest in creating new forms of interactive multisensory user experiences through the development and exploitation of novel sensor and actuator technology. We are a full-stack research group combining physical and social sciences with prototyping, electronic control, computational fabrication, perceptual research, and experience design. The MSD group consists of several PhD students and postdoctoral staff exploring research at the intersection of these disciplines.

Within this group, Prof. Marianna Obrist has an opening for a PhD student with research interest in mid-air haptics (e.g., ultrasound technology) and multisensory experiences. The PhD project is embedded in an EU project called TOUCHLESS, with six partners across Europe. The student will be based at UCL and focus on the development of computational models for designing novel mid-air haptics experiences. The aim of this PhD project is to go beyond functional haptic technology design and enable computer systems to intelligently create the tactile experiences which are lost in the virtual transition.

The project investigates the next generation of haptic technologies, aiming to use the tactile information channel to create meaningful social interactions and radically improve user experiences in remote and virtual interaction. We are specifically looking for a student to develop predictive/computational models of haptic experiences for different interaction contexts by bridging low-level stimulation parameters with high-level experience concepts such as affection, agency, attachment.

Previous researchers from the group have studied the use of mid-air haptics in virtual reality for creating tactile illusions, for augmenting media experiences, transforming science communication, as well as understanding the effect on the sense of agency.

In summary, the specific objectives for this PhD project are as follows:

Understand the low-level (stimulus-sensation interface) and high-level (social touch, ownership, attachment, agency) mechanisms of transmitting and modulating touch experiences using contactless technology.
Produce real-time, predictive models of experience, based on sensory input and touchless haptic stimulation.
Evaluate the models in specific social interaction experiences.


The successful applicant will have freedom to steer the direction towards their interests and strengths within the TOUCHLESS ambition. The ideal candidate will have

A BSc or MSc degree in Computer Science, Data Science or related field with a high appreciation for human-centered computing
Programming skills, knowledge of at least one of Python or C++
Experience with machine learning and optimization approaches
Good communication skills; especially in written English
Strong work ethic and the ability to think creatively and independently


Interested candidates are encouraged to get in contact with Marianna Obrist before submitting an application ( via the UCL application system: Apply here